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What’s The Point of An Outdoor Bar Cart?

If you’re wondering whether to buy an outdoor bar cart – then you must read this article. I’ve never had one before but it turns out these things are *life changing* if you love having fun and want to bring the mobile party to you – wherever you are in the yard.

An outdoor bar cart is a version of the classic drinks trolley, and is essential if you like entertaining and want to serve drinks to your guests anywhere in the backyard. Mobile bar carts can hold ten drink bottles per shelf, plus ice buckets, bottle openers and other drinks accessories.

So if you’re up for some fun and want to learn more about the humble outdoor bar car – which can turn any outdoor event into a party!! – then read on…

What's The Point of An Outdoor Bar Cart?

What Are Outdoor Bar Carts Used For?

Outdoor bar carts are a brilliant invention, and can elevate a simple barbecue supper into a cocktail party! They are essentially the outdoor version of the classic drinks trolley, which are used for serving and mixing drinks at parties.

Bar carts share the same basic design: simply, two or three shelves on wheels. Their function is to make serving drinks easier for the host. Everything is kept in one neat place, and can easily be wheeled away. Outdoors, where you don’t have easy access to the refrigerator or the cocktail bar, they’re even more useful.

Of course, they don’t have to be for drinks. You can also rustle up a delicious buffet breakfast in the kitchen, then wheel it out to the patio to enjoy it al fresco. Provided there aren’t any steps, the outdoor bar cart is a great way to bring everything you need to the barbecue.

On a sunny Sunday, load it up with coffee, croissants, sun-block, and your favorite book, and you’re all set for the day.

What Do You Keep On a Bar Cart?

Traditionally, the bar cart acts as a mobile cocktail bar. So, you have your bottles of spirits, the mixers, a bucket of ice, and your glassware. You’d also keep everything you need on the cart, such as tongs for ice, cocktail shakers, and cocktail accessories such as pieces of fruit and drinking straws.

So far, so vintage. What about for a more modern party? Well, it’s a handy place to keep your beer, wine, and soft drinks during an outdoor get-together. If you have friends round for morning coffee, it’s a handy place for your coffee jug and cups.

Need a useful extra surface for the barbecue? Wheel your bar cart up to the grill and use it for tongs, condiments, and extra ingredients.

In short, it’s designed as a bar on wheels, but you can use it any way you choose. We’ve even seen one used to transport kids’ art things out into the yard, creating a temporary crafting surface. (If you’re planning on using your cart for either of these last two suggestions, don’t invest in a fancy model. Stick to wipe-clean.)

How Do You Style An Outdoor Bar Cart?

You can get super-creative with your bar cart, and dress it to match your decor. We love this article from Vogue (where else?) about styling your bar cart. The trick is to keep it simple and pay attention to the details.

For example, if you are serving ice and slices of fruit, make sure the bowls are pretty and match your color scheme. For ready-mixed punches and soft drinks, you can make the bowl or jug a real centerpiece by choosing an eye-catching design. Add mats or a cloth to create a softer finish (and prevent drinks rings).

You can also add a simple embellishment, such as a vase of flowers, a plant, or a bowl of fruit. Don’t go for anything too big as you’ll lose valuable bottle space.

You can also add string lights around the rim for an evening event, or place a (safe) lantern on the top shelf.

How Much Weight Can a Bar Cart Hold?

We love it that the capacity of bar carts is given by the number of wine glasses or bottles it holds, rather than a weight limit! So, based on this, a decent-sized bar cart can hold up to ten bottles on a shelf, plus all the other accessories you need.

Alongside weight and capacity, the key thing to look out for is stability. Choose a model that has struts to keep the shelves extra stable, made from solid-looking material. And another tip: go for a model with locking wheels.

Outdoor bar cart

How Tall Should a Bar Cart Be?

The height of a bar cart depends on how many shelves it has. We carried out a bit of research into various designs, and it seems that a compact two-shelf model is upwards of 30 inches high and often reaches three feet tall, while a three-shelf design starts at about 40 inches.

If you want that handy extra shelf, make sure you choose a bar cart with a good sturdy build and decent-sized shelves. This makes sure that the bar cart doesn’t feel top heavy and is well balanced. The last thing you need at your barbecue is a flimsy table on wheels that’s carrying all your bottles and glassware…

How many shelves you go for depends on how you intend to use the bar cart, and how many guests you’re planning to serve.

Where Should I Put My Outdoor Bar Cart?

The great thing about these retro drinks trolleys is that they can go anywhere you want them to. You can wheel yours onto the patio to serve drinks to your guests, or put it next to your sun lounger so you can help yourself to drinks and snacks on a lazy afternoon. If you’re having friends round or even a party, it’s safest next to the house or gazebo wall.

Some outdoor bar carts can be folded up and stored away when not in use, which is a handy space-saving design. Carts made from durable materials such as synthetic rattan can actually be kept outside all year round. However, we do recommend keeping them indoors or covered during the winter, so they keep their good looks for longer.

If you have gone for an attractive wooden design, it can always double as an inside drinks trolley when not in use. Wheel it into the conservatory or covered porch, where it’ll come in handy during the winter months. It can also be brought out of semi-retirement during holiday season parties.

This can also work the other way. Provided it’s dry weather and you promise you’ll take it back indoors as soon as the party’s over, you can sneak an indoor trolley out for a short while. If you only need a trolley once or twice a year, this is a far more cost-effective solution. Just bear in mind that it won’t be as sturdy, and the wheels need to be kept to smooth surfaces like the deck.

However, we have to confess that we love having a dedicated outdoor bar cart, and it gets put to all sorts of uses.

Where Can I Get An Outdoor Bar Cart?

Because they’re back in fashion, it’s easy to buy a bar cart these days, and you won’t have to scour antiques shops to find a vintage model. The same is true of outdoor bar carts, and we found a great choice on both Amazon and Wayfair.

If you’re after a budget model, try Target. These may not be fancy editions, but they can be dressed up for a party with string lights and a nice cloth. For something a bit special, go for somewhere like West Elm, where you can find solid wooden designs that look fantastic with a natural outdoors scheme.

You can also make your own! This YouTube tutorial shows you how to make a rustic-style bar cart using reclaimed wood. The finished cart looks awesome, and it makes a great project. Just make sure it gets a good weather-proof coating for outdoor use.

Final Words

An outdoor bar cart is the must-have backyard accessory for those who love entertaining on the patio or decking, or out in the garden – and who want to be able to offer a range of drinks to their guests.

From soft drinks, chilled wine and beers, to spirits such as gin and tonic and Scotch – and not forgetting those cocktails! – if you invest in a bar cart you can bring the party to you wherever you are in the yard.

As mentioned, I’ve never had one of these before but an outdoor bart cart is a *great* idea – so I’ll be off out to buy one before the summer comes. Cheers!

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >